The Critics’ Corner
Where the Night is Black and Uninvaded
by Scott E. Rupp
Though I consider the story fiction, some of it is obviously based on observation and historic fact, as you have suggested. The river is the Missouri and the narrator is in South Dakota, where I grew up, looking across the river to the Nebraska side.
I have not intended for this to be a political commentary; I’m simply stating the facts of what has caused the river to change over the last eight or nine decades. Also, I like the sound of the reference to FDR and New Deal and so on. In essence, the reference serves as a historical footnote, as you indicate.
I see this piece as an observation of one place on one night that has seen much change during an unlimited time.
Copyright © 2009 by Scott E. Rupp
Thank you for the background, Scott. Of course readers don’t need it to be able to admire your essay, but they do appreciate a touch of real life and the sense of getting to know authors as real people.
On the record for our readers’ benefit, I did double check with you about FDR and the New Deal. I can see why you might want to include the historical reference: it shows that while the place might be imaginary to most readers it is nonetheless very real to you in both space and time.
It’s a matter of genre. In a lyric poem or essay such as yours, precise geographical or historical references can be a distraction, because they imply a larger story.
And yet rules are made to be broken. Victor Hugo’s poetry frequently combines lyric and epic elements. And the past master of lyric nature writing, Chateaubriand, puts the readers squarely at Niagara Falls and the Mississippi River.
Keep up the good work, Scott; we’d love to see more of it!